Sam Rayburn Reservoir set to host Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division opener Presented by FX Custom Rods - Major League Fishing
Sam Rayburn Reservoir set to host Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division opener Presented by FX Custom Rods
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Sam Rayburn Reservoir set to host Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division opener Presented by FX Custom Rods

Image for Sam Rayburn Reservoir set to host Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division opener Presented by FX Custom Rods
February 13, 2024 • MLF • Press Releases

BROOKELAND, Texas – Fresh off of last week’s extremely successful Tackle Warehouse Invitationals event last week, the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats is set to return to Brookeland, Texas, next week, Feb. 21-23, for the Southwestern Division opening event – the Toyota Series at Sam Rayburn Reservoir Presented by FX Custom Rods

The three-day tournament, hosted by the Jasper – Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce, will feature a roster of the region’s best bass-fishing pros and Strike King co-anglers competing for a top prize of up to $100,000 in the pro division and a new Phoenix 518 Pro boat with a 115-horsepower outboard motor plus $5,000 in the co-angler division.

Local pro Jim Tutt of Longview, Texas, who has fished over 250 MLF tournaments in his career, said the event is setting up to be a really exciting tournament. 

“This is the perfect time of year to fish Sam Rayburn,” Tutt said. “The bass are still in prespawn patterns but are getting close to spawning, so they’re eating really good. There are a lot of fish moving up shallow right now – due to the water being up a bit and the warmer temperatures – so there’s a lot of new stuff in the shallow grass line for fish to spawn on.”

Sam Rayburn Reservoir has a surface area of more than 114,000 acres, providing ample opportunities for anglers to fish the style that suits them, and Tutt said he expects to see an array of baits being thrown throughout the event. 

“I think we’ll see guys throwing a lot of different baits this time of year, especially with the fish getting set up for spawning patterns,” Tutt said. “(Bill Lewis) Rat-L-Trap baits and ChatterBaits are going to be really strong for prespawn fish – that’s how some of the bigger fish will probably be caught. The Senko is always going to be one of the best lures for that fishery – get on some fish, slow down and throw a Senko on that inside grass line. 

“Forward-facing sonar comes into play pretty much year-round now, but I think a guy could do really well in a multi-day event fishing shallow. Anywhere from 2 foot to 7 foot of water is a good depth on Rayburn right now.”

As for winning weights, Tutt said he expects to see big numbers coming out of this event. 

“If a guy can catch around 23 to 25 pounds per day, he could probably win,” Tutt said. “That sounds high, but the guy who’s catching a 10-pounder with some other good solid fish every day is going to be up around that mark, and that’s pretty likely to happen.”

While the current forecast is calling for sunny, blue-bird skies, Tutt cautions that weather could play into the numbers a bit. 

“Now, if the weather doesn’t cooperate and we get a super windy day, guys might not be able to move around like they normally could and that could hinder them from covering more water,” Tutt said. “But I expect we’ll see some big ones, and there’s a big possibility that someone will bring in a Toyota ShareLunker fish during the event.”

While there are a lot of things in play on Sam Rayburn Reservoir during the tournament, Tutt said he believes the recent influx of hydrilla will be key. 

“There’s a lot of grass all over the lake right now – probably the best hydrilla that the lake has had in the past 10 years,” Tutt said. “So, it’s not limited to just a few areas like it has been in the past. You can go to pretty much any arm of the lake, and you’ll find hydrilla. It’s fishing really good, and really big.”

Anglers will launch at 7 a.m. CT each day from the Umphrey Family Pavilion, located at 5438 Sam Rayburn Parkway in Brookeland. Weigh-ins will also be held at the pavilion and will begin at 3 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend and encouraged to follow the event online through the “MLF Live” weigh-in broadcasts and daily coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

In Toyota Series regular-season competition, payouts are based on the number of participants competing in the event, scaling up for every 20 boats over 160 and scaling down for every boat below 160. With a 160-boat field, pros fish for a top prize of up to $75,000, if Phoenix MLF Bonus qualified. Strike King co-anglers cast for the top prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury or Suzuki outboard (valued at $33,500). With a 260-boat field, pros fish for a top award of up to $100,000, if Phoenix MLF Bonus qualified. Strike King co-anglers cast for the top prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury or Suzuki outboard plus $5,000 cash.

The 2024 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST 2025. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2024 Toyota Series Championship will be held Nov. 7-9 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Alabama, and is hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Madison County Commission, and the Huntsville Sports Commission.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Toyota Series include: 7Brew, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, BUBBA, E3, Epic Baits, Fishing Clash, FX Custom Rods, General Tire, Lew’s, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Suzuki, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota and YETI.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Toyota Series updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at FacebookInstagram and YouTube.